Featuring Janet Wong
Published in California Kids!, July 2004
Janet Wong worked as an attorney for Universal Studios in Hollywood negotiating labor contracts and firing people.
felt like she
was becoming a mean person.
"What was most unsettling to me was that it wasn't bothering me anymore," she
decided it was time to do something more meaningful with her
life--perhaps working with children.
However, teaching was not her
While attending Yale Law School, she earned some extra money as a substitute teacher.
"I was not a good teacher," says Wong
wrote and read poetry 40 hours per week.
The class not only helped hone her
skills, it changed her
Wong shifted her focus from picture books to poetry, and is now a critically acclaimed children's poet.
" Good Luck Gold is my favorite poetry collection, not because the poems are the best, but because I took the greatest risks," says Wong
And even though Wong
did not give the main character in the story a name, he
is based on her
picture books and poems from her
Medina, Washington home.
writing schedule is sporadic, subject to the demands of school visits and her
eleven-year-old son's extracurricular activities.
has learned to treasure these interruptions.
son's competitive chess playing has not only changed their lives, it was the inspiration for an upcoming book, Alex and the Wednesday Chess Club
(McElderry, Fall 2004).
During day-long school visits and writing workshops for children, Wong
writes about ten poems while demonstrating poetic techniques.
At the same time, she
own skills and gives herself a form of enforced practice.
Early on she
toyed with the idea of assembling her
workshop poetry into a collection, but has decided that any attempt to collect the poems for publication "would diminish the exercise quality of them."
School visits also allow Wong
to stay in touch with her
readers-their language, their habits, their emotions, their reactions.
Through her workshops and in the following poem, she encourages them to find their inner poet:
Copyright (c ) 2000 by Janet S. Wong
HOW TO CONTACT JANET WONG